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Ohrid, Macedonia and sleeping in a night club
Lakeside church, Ohrid

Lakeside church, Ohrid

If I could share one piece of advice with anyone travelling to the Balkans it would be this: whenever you find yourself in a town packed with partying Serbs and someone tells you it might get noisy, you should listen. We didn’t take the warning we received too seriously and the resulting experience taught us a lesson we won’t forget in a hurry.

We had arrived in Ohrid after walking across the border from Albania, where a young and enthusiastic taxi driver had picked us up and taken us the 30 km to this historic lakeside town. Being a Friday afternoon in the peak holiday season we soon found every room in town seemed to be taken. So we should have been suspicious when we wandered into the perfectly located Hotel Tabana and found that there was availability. Particularly so when we were shown a number of decent rooms, each with a superb lake view, and were offered a price of only €40 for the night. As we dumped our backpacks happy to have secured a room we were given the casual warning about the noise. That was our chance and we chose to ignore it.

Fortress, Ohrid

Fortress, Ohrid

Ohrid is a beautiful old town, packed with picturesque churches, a hilltop fortress and a ancient amphitheatre, all nestled on the eastern shore of the picture perfect Lake Ohrid that straddles the Macedonia/Albanian border.

It is also a tourist hotspot for Eastern Europeans, with around 80% of the visitors coming from Serbia. We were soon to learn that the whole concept of a good night here revolved around having music that could drown out the sound of nuclear armageddon, and our hotel was in fact the hottest party spot in town. Not only that, but they and the bar across the road were locked in a serious contest over who could break the record for the world’s loudest sound system; our guys were winning hands down.

Another of Ohrid's many beautiful churches

Another of Ohrid's many beautiful churches

Fortunately for us we had befriended a young American couple as we were travelling to Ohrid, and having booked rooms in the same hotel we were happy to while away the evening with them away from the noise. Tiredness did mean that after a lazy meal and a late night coffee we did venture back to our rooms around 1am, pushing our way through the hotel bar to get to our second floor rooms. As I put my head on my pillow I instantly felt the bed shake to the rhythm of the techno-beat while the windows rattled as if we were experiencing a prolonged mild earthquake. If the DJ had set up his gear at the end of our bed I can’t believe he would have been too much louder. Sleep was never going to happen; even reading a book was a challenge. The peace that suddenly hit us at around 2.30 was blissful.

Taking a dip in Lake Ohrid

Taking a dip in Lake Ohrid

All was forgiven in the morning when we were presented with panini and fries for one of the stranger breakfasts we’ve had, while the delights of Ohrid soon reminded us why we had come so far out of our way to visit this lovely town. As the temperature hit somewhere approaching 40C for most of the day the chance for serious exploring was limited and after a welcome dip in the lake we took the chance to have a siesta, basking in the temporary silence of the Hotel Tabana.

Needless to say the next night we stayed out until after 2am, returning to our hotel for the closing rites of the world’s noisiest disco. Of course, many people may find the prospect of a decibel-busting disco one of the potential highlights of a European trip. If so, then a visit to the Hotel Tabana is certainly one to consider. The staff were very friendly and helpful and we can’t say they didn’t tell us about the noise in their excellent English. But if you happen to be looking for a quiet early night, I would suggest a stay at the foot of the Heathrow runway as a much more tranquil alternative.

arrow4 Responses

  1. 15 mos ago

    I can pretty much sleep through anything, but this might have challenged even me. On the other hand, I’m usually up till 3 am writing and sorting photos, so maybe it would work to keep me from nodding off with the laptop in bed, on my lap.

  2. 15 mos ago

    Barbara, I challenge you to stay here on a summer weekend and be able to think enough to do your photos – certainly no risk of nodding off :-)

  3. George
    14 mos, 3 wks ago

    there is no Macedonia, what you mean is FYROM.

    Macedonia is in Greece… next time get the facts right.. before you offend history, traditions and people.

    Despite that, your posts and blog looks pretty good and it is worth reading


  4. 7 mos ago

    To George,

    This is Macedonia. Greece insults history by making it up as they go. The province greece illegaly occupies was part of this republic just under 100 years ago and is still being illegaly occupied by greece. Get your facts right before you offend history traditions and people. Macedonia is Macedonia. And Macedonians live in Macedonia that speak Macedonian.

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